Top Engineers – Chris Kimsey

The Rolling Stones – Tattoo You

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  • Tattoo You returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • The midrange is both rich and clear, with Jagger’s vocals front and center, exactly where they belong
  • The piano has real weight, the grungy guitars are suitably distorted, and the tonal balance is correct from top to bottom, our classic Hot Stamper sound in a nutshell
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Tattoo You captures the Stones at their best as a professional stadium-rock band. Divided into a rock & roll side and a ballad side, the album delivers its share of thrills. . .”

In the tradition of other late ’70s / early ’80s Stones albums (Some Girls, Goats Head Soup, It’s Only Rock And Roll), the sound is a bit raw at times, but a copy like this one gives you the kind of energy, body and richness to make for some very enjoyable serious listening.

The sound here is big and rich, with more “meat on the bones” as we like to say. The guitars are chunky and powerful, which exactly the sound you want for a song like Start Me Up, which leads things off here. The best sides have more extension up top and more size to the soundfield as well.

As with any Stones album, don’t expect any sonic miracles. Hot Stampers aren’t going to turn this into Tea For The Tillerman. If you want to hear an amazing sounding Demo Quality record, this ain’t it, but if you love this music and are frustrated with the sound of the typical pressing I bet you’ll enjoy the heck outta this one. (more…)

Ten Years After – A Killer Audio Fidelity Gold CD

A Space in Time

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Our old commentary:

A Great CD Is Born

By the way, the BGO Import CD of this album is excellent. No match for a Hot Stamper of course, but dramatically better than the average classic rock CD, and quite a bit better than the domestic CDs we’ve auditioned.

Newsflash (3/2014)

The Audio Fidelity Gold CD mastered by Steve Hoffman is even better. If you don’t want to buy a Hot Stamper LP, that CD is your best bet (assuming it sounds as good as mine, something one cannot assume but that’s a story for another day).

Peter Frampton – Frampton’s Camel

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  • A STUNNING copy of Frampton’s Camel with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • On his second album, Frampton fronts a real rock band, playing his unique style of rock and pop, electric and acoustic, with consummate skill – if you’re a Frampton fan this is a record that belongs in your collection
  • Superb engineering from Chris Kimsey and Eddie Kramer at Olympic and Electric Lady Studios
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Named after Frampton’s touring band at the time, Frampton’s Camel has a harder-rocking feel than its predecessor Wind of Change, with Mick Gallagher’s percussive electric piano and organ taking a prominent position in the mix and Frampton getting a harder sound from his electric guitars (though his acoustic playing is so lush and lyrical that it dominates the album here and there in its quiet way).”

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Chris Kimsey Is One of Our Favorite Engineers

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CHRIS KIMSEY is one of our favorite recording and mixing engineers. Click on the link to find our in-stock Kimsey engineered or produced albums, along with plenty of our famous commentaries.  

Many can be found in our R ock and Pop Top 100 List of Best Sounding Albums with the Best Music (limited to titles that we can actually find sufficient copies of with which to do our Hot Stamper shootouts).

See more entries in our Favorite Engineers series

The Rolling Stones – Some Girls

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • It’s got weight, punch, energy and fullness – qualities key to the best sounding pressings
  • Tons of great songs – Miss You, Beast of Burden and Shattered, all sounding shockingly good – thanks to the engineering skills of Chris Kimsey
  • 5 stars: “Opening with the disco-blues thump of “Miss You,” Some Girls is a tough, focused, and exciting record, full of more hooks and energy than any Stones record since Exile on Main St. Even Their rockers sound harder and nastier than they have in years.”

This is the Stones’ last truly great album. All Music Guide gives it the same 5 star rating that they awarded Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, and Sticky Fingers. With hits like Miss You, Shattered, and Beast Of Burden, it’s easy to see why.

Most copies are too thin and grainy for serious audiophile listening, but this one is a different story. It’s not easy to find great sound for The Stones, so take this one home for a spin if you want to hear this band bring these songs to life in your very own listening room.

Not many copies have this kind of clarity and transparency, or this kind of big, well-defined bottom end. The sound of the hi-hat is natural and clear on this pressing, as are the vocals, which means that the tonality in the midrange is correct, and what could be more important than a good midrange? It’s where the music is. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Steel Wheels

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  • With two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides, we would be very surprised if you’ve ever heard Steel Wheels sound remotely as good as it does on this pressing
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard
  • 4 1/2 stars in Rolling Stone: “All the ambivalence, recriminations, attempted rapprochement and psychological one-upmanship evident on Steel Wheels testify that the Stones are right in the element that has historically spawned their best music – a murky, dangerously charged environment in which nothing is merely what it seems. Against all odds, and at this late date, the Stones have once again generated an album that will have the world dancing to deeply troubling, unresolved emotions.”

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The Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue

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  • This amazing copy of the Stones’ 1980 release boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout  
  • Dance (Pt. 1) and She’s So Cold sound out of this world on this copy, and the title track, Emotional Rescue, is every bit as good
  • An underrated Stones album — too good to call a guilty pleasure — and very well-recorded by Chris Kimsey
  • Maybe it’s good because “Mick Jagger sounds like he’s having a great time…”

This amazing pressing delivers the kind of killer sound you surely did not expect from this underrated Stones album.

We had a great time shooting this one out — we had forgotten how good the music was and were pleasantly surprised by how good the best copies can sound. It’s tough to get great Stones sound, I’m sure most of you know that, but there’s lots of it here and a bunch of good songs. She’s So Cold, Summer Romance, Dance, the title track… not a bad line-up, and probably the last great album these guys put out.

As you might expect, we heard lots of dry, grainy, thinned-out sound on the copies that didn’t make the cut. When you get a Hot copy with a punchy bottom end and some richness, it’s an entirely different story. It lest a song like the leadoff track Dance come to life, giving you bigger, livelier, fuller sound than you ever expected to hear on this record. (more…)

Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive

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  • All four sides of this double album earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to it for their Big, Bold Live Rock sound – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Mixed and mastered so that the guitar solos soar the way they do in live music — what a thrill it is to hear them finally sounding the way they should
  • A killer copy like this one is a potent reminder of why we all went so crazy for this album back in the ’70s – I did anyway
  • Allmusic agrees with us that many tracks here are “much more inspired, confident, and hard-hitting than the studio versions.”

On the better copies, the guitar solos are the loudest parts of some of the songs, which, as everyone who’s ever been to a rock concert knows, is exactly what happens in live rock music. Fancy that!

Not many live albums are mixed to allow the guitar solos to rock the way these do. Since Frampton is one of my favorite players, hearing his work get loud on this album is nothing less than a thrill. It’s hard to turn up the volume on most copies — they tend to get aggressive in a hurry — but that simply doesn’t happen on our hottest Hot Stampers. They sound right when they’re loud. (more…)

Peter Frampton – Wind of Change – Glorious Big Speaker Sound

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A while back we discussed the kind of sound that Glyn Johns managed to get for the likes of Humble Pie and The Who: “But oh what a glorious sound it is when it’s working. There’s not a trace of anything phony up top, down low or anywhere in-between. This means it has a quality sorely at odds with the vast majority of audiophile pressings, new and old, as well as practically anything recorded in the last twenty years, and it is simply this: The louder you play it the better it gets.

This is without a doubt a big speaker record, one that requires the highest-resolution, lowest-distortion components to bring out its best qualities. If you have a system like that you should find much to like here.

I bought my first copy in 1972 when I was still in high school and it quickly became one of my favorite records. All these years later it still is. It’s records like this that shaped my audio purchases and pursuits. It takes a monster system to even begin to play this record right and that’s the kind of stereo I’ve always been drawn to. A stereo that can’t play this record, or The Beatles, or Ambrosia, or Yes, or the hundreds of other amazing recordings we put up on the site every year, is not one I would be very likely to own. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Undercover

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Engineered by Chris Kimsey, if you know his work from Some Girls, Tattoo You, Frampton Comes Alive and the like, then you should have a good idea of what this album sounds like on the better copies such as this one.   (more…)